Out at last on BRD in the UK (an HMV exclusive). Could this be the greatest American picture of the 1970s? Maybe - there's a lot of competition though - Coppola's Godfather flicks, plus The Conversation and Apocalypse Now, Polanski's Chinatown, The Last Picture Show by Bogdanovic, Spielberg's Duel and Jaws, Scorsese's Taxi Driver, Friedkind's French Connection, along with other contenders like Five Easy Pieces, A Woman under The Influence, MASH, Serpico, All The President's Men, Malick's second film, Days Of Heaven...
I think Terrence Malick's Badlands (1973) is my favourite, though. It's also the most striking debut by an an American film-maker since Welles' Citizen Kane back in 1941; and perhaps the most poetic piece of movie-making since The Colour of Pomegranates (Sergei Paradjanov, 1968).
A haunting and jaw-droppingly beautiful tale of violence perpetrated by teenage runaways, it's inspired by a true story - the notorious 1958 killing spree perpetrated by the 19-year-old Charles Starkweather and his 15-year-old girlfriend Caril Ann Fugate – which left 10 people dead and shook Ike's complacent 1950s America to its core.
Here the story is transposed to 1959 and stars 31-year-old(!) Martin Sheen as the Starkweather figure Kit Carruthers (clearly modelled on James Dean) and 24-year-old Sissy Spacek as Fugate (renamed for the movie as Holly Sargis).
As well as placing his characters in the vast Midwestern landscape, ensuring that they seem as lost as we know them to be; Malick's genius is to contrast the horror (and poetic beauty) of what we see with Holly Sargis' banal and unreliable narration. And the cinemastography of Tak Fujimoto, Stevan Larner and Brian Probyn is just as masterful (as is Malick's script, and the performance of the two leads, supported by Warren Oates and Ramon Bieri).
A film this good, and this ravishing, deserves to be seen in the best possible quality, and this is an excellent Blu-ray transfer.